Linking Nutrition Education With Social Protection Measures

The case of Mary Meda

Mary Meda is 32 years old, married to Meda Mdala and has three daughters. The youngest, Mariam, is three years. The family is from Nthiwatiwa village, Group Village Head Ndindi B in TA Ndindi, Salima district. Mary is both a member of the care group and the village savings and loans association. She joined the care group early in March 2016, when the project staff visited her area to conduct community sensitizations.

Mary Meda sitting second from right with her family members.
The wall behind her is a ’talking wall’. It tells about exclusive breastfeeding.

“I have been a member in Mwayiwawo Village Savings and Loans Association which started in May 2015, but I did not see the biggest benefit until CARE came into our area. The money I was getting from VSLA was used to spend on unnecessary things, but now I use it to buy nutritious food which has made my family healthy” — Mary Meda.

From the savings accumulated through the Village Savings and Loans Associations group, Mary has managed to buy nutritious food such as fish, but also soap to wash the clothes of her family.

“I have really benefitted from the VSLA group as I managed to buy a goat which is now expecting and will soon give birth to a kid. I wish you saw it but it has gone for feeding in the bushes”, Mary points out as she smiles.

Soon, the family will be getting milk from the goat. Family members highlight that their living standards have changed to the better from the time when they were not involved in care group activities as well as VSLA groups. Mary can now afford to buy family necessities she previously could not. Her vision for the future is to own a good dwelling house with iron sheets and to have her family’s living conditions improved.

Project components

One of the project’s components, implemented by CARE International, is to promote positive nutrition behaviour among the target group through nutrition education. In so-called care groups, trained volunteers pass on nutrition messages to caregivers on topics such as diversifying food, preparation of food or breastfeeding practices. Volunteers visit the caregivers in their homes at least twice a month to discuss new nutrition topics.

Another important way to achieve dietary diversity at the household level is via economic empowerment activities. The project is using Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) which allows participating caregivers to save and borrow money from a pool of funds. Additionally, meetings by VLSA groups that focus on their planned financial transactions are used to pass on and discuss at least two key messages of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement. This leads to a better understanding of how the money earned through economic activities can be used to improve the nutritional status of the household members.

About the Food and Nutrition Security Programme in Malawi

To improve the nutritional situation of women and children, GIZ has been implementing a Food and Nutrition Security Programme in Malawi since 2015 through the ‘ONE WORLD –No Hunger’ Global Initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Different NGO partners implement the program in the communities.


Joseph Maulana, CARE Malawi
Sarah Schielinsky, GIZ FNSP